First, here’s one of my favourite Beatles songs, “A Day in the Life,” to set the mood, since they feature prominently in this post:
For our last day in Prague – this post already dates back to mid-July, so I’m using my photos to guide me at this point – Mink and I checked out of the hostel at 10 a.m. and left our bags there, got breakfast, and walked around for the entire day. This is the best thing to do in any city, naturally.
We hadn’t been to the medieval part of Prague yet, and had only seen it across the Vltava River, so we walked across the Charles Bridge along with a million other tourists and into the really old part of the city. That meant that all of those spiky bits on the skyline were finally looming right above us!
Religion is a significant theme on the Charles Bridge, clearly:
Also, disgruntled lions in caves:
The bridge leads to Kampa Island, which has a cute park and very tiny cobble-stoned streets and is the kind of place one might envision all of Prague being a century or two ago. When we went, it was midday and packed with people, so it didn’t feel creepy in the least, but I imagine that a dank, dark evening in winter would make this area perfectly sinister. Here is a shot of old Prague from the bridge:
The map told us to find the blue fox (much rarer than the red fox), so we did!
There was some questionable art about the place, including giant babies with terrifying squished-in faces that were blistering from absorbing the sun all day,
as well as plastic penguins and a giant driftwood chair. I love this type of art – the kind that is playfully irreverent and/or mildly disconcerting.
The primary reason for visiting Kampa, though, is the Lennon Wall, an ever-shifting palimpsest of graffiti that was originally inspired by John Lennon and the Beatles and has a fascinating political story. We spent a long time there, since there is so much so absorb. The Beatles, I assume, are a constant presence, in some artistic form or another:
Then there are the pieces inspired by Beatles lyrics, like this cute “I am the Walrus” drawing:
And, Tyler Durden snuck in there (the stencil says, “In Tyler We Trust”). Love it.
Invader’s work is the art I have seen most consistently in my travels this year. His various mosaic-tiled aliens are rampant throughout Europe, and recognizing them in an unfamiliar city causes a jolt of excitement — it is proof that he’s been here already! Invader’s art is always simple, always effective.
I’m certain that most, if not all, of these pieces on the Lennon Wall have been sprayed over with new illustrations and lyrics in the course of the past month. The wall brings home the concept of interpreting a city as a readable but ever-changing text — not to get all English Lit. on you, but it’s a fascinating idea. I could digress but I won’t.
After stopping for veggie burgers for lunch, Mink and I walked past St. Nicholas Church in the Lesser Town Square, yet another beautiful set of spikes on the skyline. The history’s here.
Next we laboured up the thousand(ish) steps to get to the impressive Prague Castle on the top of the hill. Apparently this is the biggest castle in the world!
Here is a close-up of the castle’s imposing cathedral, complete with menacing gargoyles, which is the most prominent structure on the hill:
It was an exhausting tour of the city, and we ended up walking for hours straight, but this was my favourite day in Prague. Mink and I made it back to hostel to pick up our backpacks and then had a rather quick walk to the bus station to make our 6 p.m. bus and pass out for a few hours, and were back home in Vienna by 10 p.m.
It is so fortunate that our completely unplanned trip went so well…and this has definitely not been our last spontaneous trip. Things tend to turn out better that way, or maybe Mink and I have just been lucky with our traveling plans.
I haven’t even mentioned it yet in my posts on Prague, but one of my favourite writers, Milan Kundera, is of Czech origin, and his amazing book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, is set in Prague in 1968. The political history of the Czech Republic is endlessly fascinating, and Kundera’s writing is flawless. Yes, this is a shameless plug for his writing — I mean, look at how epic this guy is!
In short, I with am in love with both Prague and Kutná Hora, in all their Gothic-spiky-towered glory!